Jeremy's Reviews Blog

Thursday, November 23, 2006 sucks (or blows)...

I think I ranted about their stupid delayed shipping policy. But now I'm mad about them again, over the $100 Xbox 360 deal.

No, I really didn't expect to get one. But it would have been nice if the page had even loaded! Surely they should have expected massive, massive traffic.

Activision Hits Remixed

The Atari VCS (or 2600) was the first really popular video game console. I actually owned a pong/squash/lightgun machine before it, but the VCS was cool because it was in color, and you could buy different games for it.

Most of the early games were done by Atari themselves, but 3rd parties started making them in the early 80s. Activision was perhaps not the best of these 3rd parties, but probably the most successful. This game is basically a compilation of all the Activision games for the 2600 (minus a few aracde conversions licensed from other companies).


How well do the games hold up? Well, most of them, not so well, honestly. Part of the trouble is, Activision was mostly known for color graphics more than gameplay. So most of the games are extremely simple, and the graphics still look pretty crude by todays standards (if still someonewhat more colorful than other old games).

Still, like most old games, the shooters still hold up pretty well. Chopper Command, basically a Defender clone; Megamania, basically a vertical shooter like Space Invaders (but faster paced) is okay, but at least on my PSP, there's some bluriness due to the LCD. Spider Fight is pretty fun. It sounds like a Centipede clone, but plays almost more like a Galaga style game (minus the ship capturing).

Pitfall and Pitfall 2, probably the first two platform style games, still hold up fairly well. I thought Keystone Kapers was overrated then, and now, it still isn't much fun. One of the prettiest 2600 games though.

There are only a couple complex games - Space Shuttle, which you pilot a space shuttle to a space station and return; and Starmaster, which is basically an action version of the old Star Trek style games, where you had a big map and would have to travel sector to sector to kill a certain amount of aliens and manage your energy.

Also has a few Imagic games. Imagic was basically the 3rd best (although my favorite) developer for the 2600, after Activision. This includes one of their better games, Atlantis, which is basically sort of like Missile Command; Demon Attack, a vertical shooter sort of like Phoenix (and quite good); and one of their worst games, Moonsweeper, which seems to be Gravitar clone. (At least I think it's the worst, others seem to like it).

Sadly, no Cosmic Ark which is one of the best 2600 games made and the sequel to Atlantis. (After Atlantis gets destroyed, you see the Cosmic Ark fly off into space).

One thing though. I don't know if its me getting old and my reflexes are slower, but some of the games seem faster than I remembered. Which makes them somewhat harder.


This is where the product really shines. Consider it's a budget title, they could have gotten away with doing a simple port of Activision Anthology. But they completely re-did the interface to fit the PSP and its controls, and took advantage of the large memory card size to allow you to save the gamestate of all the games. That is, it lets you simply stop playing a game, and return to it later right where you left off. It even uses this as the screenshot when you scroll through the games.

Speaking of scrolling, that's probably the only real complaint I have - there's 40-something games in it, and you have to scroll through them one by one. They are in alphabetical order, and it scrolls fast (no loading at all in this once the main program loads), but still can be annoying.


The graphics are exactly like the original games. So are the sounds, as near as I can remember. The game default to the original ratio, but you can expand it out to fill the entire screen (this reduces the access to some of the controls, so you can't really play all games like this)

There's a 12 song 80s soundtrack, including some of my favorites, "Take On Me", "Safety Dance", "It's My Life", and the short version of "Tainted Love". Could have been better, and it definitely gets repetitive, but for a budget release, it's extremely good (and how many of these compilations actually have a soundtrack?). Unfortunately, you can't skip a song while playing, you have to exit to the main menu and skip. Only takes a few seconds, but could have been done a little better, maybe. Also despite the name of the game, none of the songs are remixes, just the regular version.

Final Thoughts:

I really didn't like the original Activision Anthology for the PS2 much, because it was something of a hassle to use, in terms of loading speed, and honestly, a lot of these games weren't that great to begin with 25 years ago. This on the other hand, is much better. And I think the portable format simply fits playing old classics better, since most of them are simple and can be enjoyed in a few minutes.

I'm still not crazy about most of the games, but this is just about as good as a old compilation of Activision games could be (only real way to be better would be to include more Imagic games, and Activision games from other platforms from the era, not just 2600). So I'm giving it a B+, or 8/10 here.

(I'm tempted to give it a 9/10, but having Atlantis but no Cosmic Ark is just wrong. It's like Cagney without Lacey. Or Ponch without John)